Peter Decherney

Peter Decherney, Ph.D.

Peter Decherney
  • Professor of Cinema Studies and English, School of Arts and Sciences
  • Director of the Cinema Studies Program, School of Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty Director, Penn’s Online Learning Initiative

Peter Decherney’s areas of expertise include media industries and the impact of intellectual property law. He is also a documentary and virtual reality filmmaker.

Peter Decherney is Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Term Chair in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania where he is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, Director of the Penn Global Documentary Institute, and Faculty Director of Penn’s university-wide Online Learning Initiative. He holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School.

He is the author or editor of seven books including HOLLYWOOD’S COPYRIGHT WARS: FROM EDISON TO THE INTERNET and HOLLYWOOD: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION. Prof. Decherney has written for The New York Times, Forbes, and Inside Higher Ed, among other publications. His first book of photography ENDLESS EXODUS: THE JEWISH EXPERIENCE IN ETHIOPIA is forthcoming.

He is an award-winning documentary and virtual reality filmmaker, who has directed films about global migration and on the political role of artists in Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the U.S. His virtual reality docuseries, THE HEART OF PUERTO RICO, about artists in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (co-directed with Jean Lee) won the Best VR Experience and Best Director awards at the 2020 AT&T Film Awards. And his documentary, DREAMING OF JERUSALEM (co-directed with Sosena Solomon), about the Jewish Community in Gondar, Ethiopia is a Discovery+ original.

Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. He is an award-winning teacher, whose open online course on the history of Hollywood has enrolled more than 75,000 learners. He serves on the advisory boards of several online learning organizations including Coursera, 2U/edX, the Axim Collective, and Honor Education.

Selected Publications